It can't get any worse

Packers should be able to bounce back against 49ers

The Green Bay Packers' first half performance against the New York Jets last Sunday was about as bad as it gets. The Packers went into the locker room at half time down 31-0 and were cascaded with a torrent of boos.

As most of you know, booing the Packers at Lambeau is a rare occurrence. But based on that performance, or lack of one, the team deserved the "recognition" from the crowd. Brett Favre said that he never had a lower point in his Green Bay career as he walked off at halftime. Favre is a proud warrior and he hasn't faced this type of adversity much in his career.

The Jets game reminded me of a game that took place almost four decades ago. Another proud warrior - Bart Starr - was trying to lead his overmatched Packers against the Detroit Lions that day in 1970. The Packers were whipped by the Lions 40-0 that Sunday and the crowd voiced it's displeasure with the Packers as they walked off the field, much like the crowd did this last Sunday. Starr hadn't faced many moments like that in Green Bay. Even the greats like Starr and Favre, with all the glory they achieved, have to deal with rare embarrassing losses.

The 2006 Green Bay Packer season has seen some lowlights and some highlights. But Sunday's first half vs. the Jets was as low as it can get. The Packer offense wasn't clicking. The defense had no pass pressure and the defensive backs looked like they were playing in quicksand. Special teams once again were outplayed. Punter Jon Ryan was the one bright spot playing with a heavy heart with the passing of his father. Bottom line, that was probably the worst half of football I have ever witnessed in the Favre era. I actually WANTED to do yard work for the second half as opposed to watching the game.

I did decide to watch the second half after all. The Packers showed that they did have pride with their third quarter performance. It wasn't enough to dig out of the huge crevice that they had created, but their play was a complete turn around from the first half. The offense moved the ball effectively. The Packers actually had a pass rush and forced a couple of turnovers.

The Packers are the youngest team in the NFL. That is no excuse for their first half effort against the Jets. The team has a good nucleus of veteran leadership. Veterans with pride. Veterans like Favre. And Donald Driver. And Ahman Green. And Aaron Kampman. And Nick Barnett. And Al Harris. And Charles Woodson. These are the guys that will have to help this team grow up. Some of the kids are growing up quickly, like LB A.J. Hawk, WR Greg Jennings and the three rookie offensive linemen, Daryn Colledge, Jason Spitz and Tony Moll.

The 2006 Packers can only go up from what happened last Sunday. Green Bay goes on the road to take on another young team Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers. It's probably a good thing it's a road game as the Packers are 1-5 at Lambeau this year. Hopefully head coach Mike McCarthy can use the painful lesson of last week to get the team to perform better against the competition the rest of the season. Even with last week's pathetic outcome, I feel the team will play well this Sunday. The Packers are 3-3 on the road this season. Favre is 10-1 lifetime vs. the 49ers, with only the Terrell Owens last second catch in the 1998 playoff game as his only setback.

Sometimes it takes an embarrassing loss to make a team look at at itself in the mirror. It's one thing to get soundly beaten by the Bears and Patriots, both at home, but the Jets? The Jets are a solid club, but they are not four touchdowns better than the Packers. It's up to the Packer coaches and players now to right the ship and play with more consistency. It's also obvious that the team needs more talent and that the young talent they do have needs to mature. Hopefully the team will finish the 2006 season on a solid note. Based on the Jets game, that doesn't look promising. Still, it can't get any worse.

Note: Bob Fox is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

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